Moscow Court Cuts Oil Tycoon’s Prison Term

From Al Jazeera

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Kremlin critic and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner have had their prison terms reduced from 13 to 11 years by a Moscow court.

Khodorkovsky and his co-defendant Platon Lebedev were convicted of fraud and multi-million dollar tax evasion in 2003 and again in 2010 for embezzlement and money laundering.

The case was widely criticised abroad as politically motivated, after Khodorkovsky – the founder of Yukos Oil and formerly Russia’s richest man – challenged the power of Vladimir Putin early in his presidency.

The Kremlin has denied it was involved in the case.

“This is purely an economic crime. The court took its decision,” said Vladimir Putin at his annual press conference on Thursday.

The Russian president stated that he had no say in Khodorkovsky’s prosecution and bore no grudge against him. He had previously dismissed allegations over involvement in the oil tycoon’s case by saying “a thief should sit in jail”.

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